Category : Country : China

Rock tea: a mysterious name

Rock Teas

Last week I wrote about “rock teas”, because I had just returned from that region of China. When you ask local farmers where the name comes from, some talk about the fact that the tea must be rocked at a particular stage during the processing. But others draw an analogy between the tea’s smooth flavour, its minerality and strength, and the amazing rocks around which the camellias grow.


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Da Hong Pao: a legendary oolong

blog-24-10-2014

In China there is a very famous group of teas called “rock teas”. These semi-oxidised teas come from Wu Yi Shan, a mountain range in the north of Fujian province. The best known is Da Hong Pao. You have to taste it at least once in your life to realise what an exceptional tea this is. It has a rare strength and length in the mouth, yet remains subtle. It is fruity, toasted, woody and sweet at the same time.


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The origins of “lapsang souchong”

blog-17-10-2014

Calling all smoked teas connoisseurs! It is here, in a Chinese regional park in the north of Fujian province, that all lapsang souchongs were produced for two hundred years. The origins of this tea date back to the 19th century, when a high-ranking Chinese army officer requisitioned the tea factory that stood here before this one, to house his regiment, leaving the farmer no choice but to dry his tea outside, over burning spruce roots. Which is how smoked tea came about.


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Gary, a true connoisseur of teas from south-west China

Gary, a true connoisseur of teas from south-west China - Discovering Tea

Every year my friend Gary, who lives in Kunming and runs a tea store there, sends me lots of pu erh samples. Raw pu erhs, cooked pu erhs, pu erhs in cake form or loose, pu erhs of every age, from very young to very old. I always look forward to receiving them. I’ve known Gary for more than 20 years. He was young when we met and was working for the state organisation in charge of exporting Yunnan teas. He has an excellent knowledge of all the teas produced in south-west China. Tea is his life.


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In China, the tea market has changed

In China, the tea market has changed

The process of buying tea in China is not what it used to be. Only 20 years ago only the state had the authority to export tea, and every Chinese tea was given a specific reference. Expert tasters would travel the whole country, visiting each tea factory and tasting each tea before giving it a reference number. For example a Grand Yunnan Imperial was given a grade of 6112.
Things have changed a great deal since then. Today those Chinese experts have gone, no doubt to the private sector, and domestic consumption has increased dramatically. Demand now outstrips supply, pushing prices up. And nobody thinks to remember how it was done 20 years ago.


Posted in Country : China, Professional tasting by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : ,

The author

François-Xavier Delmas is a passionate globetrotter. He’s been touring the world’s tea plantations for more than 20 years in search of the finest teas. As the founder of Le Palais des Thés, he believes that travelling is all about discovering world cultures. From Darjeeling to Shizuoka, from Taiwan to the Golden Triangle, he invites you to follow his trips as well as share his experiences and emotions.

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